Earthlock: Festival of Magic PS4 Review

Final Fantasy X has been reincarnated….almost.

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Earthlock: Festival of Magic invokes feelings of Final Fantasy X without the soul and attachment of Final Fantasy storytelling. The similarities in gameplay are quite astonishing and I love it. Here’s the wild thing….the combat in Earthlock might even be more strategic.

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Combat is the shining star in Earthlock. No enemy is the same, every battle, even what we would consider throw away battles in other JRPGs are not the same here in Earthlock. Each battle needs to be examined. What element types are we facing, what party is active, what stance are they in, what party bond perks are active? Strategy!

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There are a few different strategic battle systems that we can talk about here:

Stances – Stances allow the character to choose from a different set of abilities. Essentially changing their roll in combat.

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Bonds – Each character can be paired with any other. Completing battles together will earn them bond xp and raise their bond level over time. As your bond level goes up you gain perks specific to each character. You can pair any character with any other at any time.

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Party – You can only have 4 active party members at one time. How will you set your party up?

Attributes – these skills are specific to each character. Some do different elemental damage and can vary in how many ability points they cost. You generate one bar per turn.

To give a better example of how deep and rich the combat experience in this game is, take a look at this:

Now at this point I have to make a choice. My party is all dead. I know I can’t take another hit, so I can’t drink a health potion, it won’t heal me enough. Do I resurrect another party member? Well if I do that I’ll get stuck in a resurrect then death cycle where each person I revive is just killed the next turn. This Boss was a tank, do I strike and hope it lands and she dies? All or nothing. I strike….it was just enough to kill her. The strategy to get to that final decision was constant. Every move I had to choose carefully and at the right time. Wild.

Enough about combat. Let’s talk about how you get around the world.

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There is a larger world map with enemies spotted around that will attack you if you get too close. I found avoiding these were best as regular battles don’t give that much exp points. So I use the world map to search out sprites and get to new areas.

Once you reach a town or dungeon it pretty straight forward. There is an occasional path that splits off with a treasure chest at the end, but it’s never a big secret. Each area is well themed with colors, enemies and music that match the overall tone. The visuals aren’t groundbreaking, but they are quite pleasant. A little on the bland side but nothing that put me off. All the enemies are unique and visually pleasing.

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Besides the combat, my favorite part of the game is your home base. You have a garden where you plant seeds, water them to grow, harvest them then make potions and ammo out of the harvested material. You don’t really need to grind out money, all you need to do is spend some time in your garden and craft the items you need. Your plants will level up providing more material and they can also evolve and produce more seeds for you to plant.

You can take a rest in your house to restore you parties HP which is a great way to save potions for battle.earthlock_-festival-of-magic_20170120165345

Earlier I mention searching for sprites. Each of the games major regions have a themed sprite creature that you can capture and bring back to your island. That sprite will in turn provide crafting material for crafting attribute cards. These can be used while leveling up your characters to give the special one-off attributes like “Fire Master: Increase fire attacks by %15. Increase Defense against ice attacks by %30 “. Pretty cool.

The story gets better as it goes on, but with no voice acting and no prior knowledge to the lore of this world it was hard to get into.

The single downfall of the game is its pacing. Sometimes you have these long dungeon runs with no save points in between that turn into boss battle after boss battle. It doesn’t produce too many issues, it’s just a small bothersome at times.

It took me almost 30 hours to complete the story and I enjoyed the game thoroughly. This is one of those times where an indie game just does things right. If you’re a JRPG fan this is a must buy. It’s on the PSN store now.

RWBY: Grimm Eclipse PS4 Review

Step into Remnant and hack n slash your way through new Grimm enemies with up to 4 friends!

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RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is a four-player, online co-op, hack and slash game that puts you in control of Rooster Teeths international hit shows characters. Fans and players will experience RWBY like never before with new locations, new enemies and a brand new storyline that keeps the combat intense and the action nonstop. With an original storyline stemming from the series itself fight against the mysterious Dr. Merlot who has returned to wreak havoc on the World of Remnant with his mutant Grimm creations.

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As I mentioned before there is up to 4 player coop. Choose one of the 4 main RWBY heroes (or one of the JNPR friends if you have the DLC) each character has their own weapons, abilities, and upgrades. You have a standard attack, a strong attack, and a ranged attack. Each can be comboed together to efficiently disperse Grimm at every turn. Gameplay plays out like Dynasty Warriors with fewer enemies, combat is actually the best part of the game. How it feels, how responsive it is, it’s perfect. It’s brought down by some horrible AI, though.

They got all the original voice actors to voice their in-game characters and it’s awesome. It really helps immerse you in the game’s combat, and makes everything that much better.

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The graphics are a little bit of a mixed bag. The soft lighting mixed with the show’s iconic graphical look is great, but the ground and mountain textures aren’t up to par with anything else. It’s a bit nitpicky, but whatever. There are boxes to smash and collectibles to find, but they will be pretty much in plain sight as the level design isn’t bad, but it is….odd.

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The campaign, especially when played co-op won’t take but a couple hours. So the replayability comes in the form of a horde mode. There’s 3 different horde maps that are focused on co-op hack n slash action, strategy, and even setting up defense turrets. You protect these security nodes as wave after wave of Grimm attack from all sides.

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If you’re a fan of the series I almost guarantee you will enjoy this game. If you’re new to the series as a whole, it’s a nice little hack n slash that you WILL NEED friends to enjoy the game with. Otherwise, it’s a mediocre experience.

Space Rift PSVR Review

Space Rift – A tear in the space-time continuum, or a tear in your inner ear?

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Space Rift has an exterior shell that will make you want to tear your eyes out and buy new ears, but under that preposterous ugly shell, there is s a solid PSVR game.

The graphics, garbage. Too sharp, poor quality textures and horrid lighting.

The sound, garbage. the entire audio library of the game is blown out. Like every sound they recorded was in the red or the voice actor was eating the mic.

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But………but…….despite those 2 MAJORLY GLARING issues, the gameplay is good! The mix of slow paced mining for materials mixed with medium paced space combat makes for a well-paced experience. As the game moves along it also opens up a bit more. You can upgrade your ship in a number of ways. Different types of weapons to suit your playstyle, Enjoy mining, upgrade your drill and get more probes too! Better shields, faster engines, go to town upgrading.

Inside the ship you have different monitors, each gives different info on what is going on. They even sneak the pause menu into one of those monitors and that’s pretty cool. You get a nice view out of the cockpit that lets you see most of what’s outside but still making it feel like you are on a ship.

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Nothing in the game is overly difficult. It’s a nice little space mining adventure that will destroy your earbuds but gives your PSVR an alternate space game that’s single player. It’s simple to pick up and play and is generally just enjoyable to float around space.

Fruit Ninja PSVR Review

Fruit Ninja for the PSVR, I am the American Fruit Ninja Warrior!!!

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Fruit Ninja got its humble beginnings on mobile phones. Using your finger to slash on screen and slice n dice as much fruit as possible in the allotted time. It was great fun actually, but there’s only so much immersion you can get from a mobile game. *Fruit Ninja VR steps in the room like a Ninja looking for vengeance in a saloon* “Is that a PSVR you have? Let me give it a go”

Fruit Ninja on mobile phones and even arcades was years ahead of its time. It has a permanent home and cottage on the PSVR now.

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An issue that plagues many PSVR games is tracking. Now tracking is how well the camera tracks your movements. When a game has bad tracking, often your head movements will be jarring, and any actions performed with your hands will end up all over the screen and be a general mess. Fruit Ninja VR might have the BEST tracking in a PSVR game to date. It’s dead on. Had zero issues myself and it reacts to varying player heights with no issue. I’m 6’1 and the game adjusted to my 6-year-olds height and back to mine with no problem.

Seriously tho….the tracking is unbelievably superb.

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There are 4 game modes:

Arcade, Classic, Survival, and my favorite, Zen which is an all out slash fest. You get 1:30 to slice as many fruits as possible. I use this mode to practice my sweet ninja moves.

Fruit Ninja VR is devoid of typical VR issues and has a mode for every type of gamer. It is now a go-to game to show off the PSVR to friends and family. Anyone can pick up and play. If you have a PSVR system, this is a must buy!

The Dwarves PS4 Review

Looking for something new and fresh? Here it is!

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The Dwarves gives you control over a servant dwarf that has never been away from his underground home where he served his masters as a blacksmith handyman of sorts. You are tasked with heading out of the underground vault and delivering a message. A small task that turns into quite the random adventure. Where the story goes and how it unfolds is up to you. Make choices like taking on a regiment of orcs to save a village or walk by and let the town be destroyed. What kind of sweeping effects could that have? I guess you’ll find out.

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Along your journey you will meet other characters and recruit them into your adventuring party! It’s almost like a different take on Lord of the Rings. There are 2 parts to the game, the Overland Map and Battle/Exploration phase. In the Overland map you move an icon along an open path. Choose to visit towns, explore ruins, or just camp out. Once you find a place of interest whether it be a battle or somewhere to explore, you will get a loading screen then dropped into a small explorable area where you can then walk around and interact with things. If it’s a battle, you’re in for some fun.

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The battle system, once you figure out how it works and what’s going on, wow it’s awesome. It’s like the developers took the scene from Lor of the Rings where Gimli and Legolas fight their way down Helms Deeps front gate steps and made and entire battle system off of that one scene. It’s wild. Your characters will all fight by themselves, your input will come with moving them and saying when to do special moves like massive sweeping weapon strikes that will cut a swath through the Orcs sending them flying out of the way and more often then not, off the side of a cliff or bridge. It’s awesome to watch. There are times you get surrounded by the enemies with ranks stacking 4-5 deep on every side of you. Pause the battle with SQUARE and figure a way out of that mess. Use a charge run move to sprint out, see if a party member can leap over to aid you, or just try to power out of it like a true Dwarf.

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The story that unfolds is nothing to get excited about, but it does its job at progressing through. There are a lot of fancy fantasy world like names that are hard to pronounce and keep track of, but it’s laid out well enough for you to follow.

Now to my 2 major gripes:

Loading. Wow. From overland map to cutscene or battle and back will leave you with a whopping load screen every time. Totally takes you out of this experience. At one particular part in the game there was a tough battle, at that point, I spent more time in a loading screen than actually playing the game. This needs to get optimized.

The camera feels like it was sacrificed for better looking set design. Unlike Diablo 3 or other recent isometric games the camera will move along the walls and warp in and out with pillars and big trees. Making controlling the camera and using it to actually see anything a bother. Your view will be obstructed quite often. In battle, that could mean life or death.

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The Dwarves is a fresh new IP that is much needed in this world of sequels and recycled, overhyped nonsense. It’s unique, it’s fun, it has its flaws, but like we always do here on HDGaminLIVE, we find the good in a game and take it’s flaws as they are. It’s a great game if you want a strategic adventure mixed with fun combat. It can get a little too hard at times, even on it’s easiest difficulty, but figuring out a way to win if half the fun.

Robinson: The Journey PSVR Review

The PSVR game that treats me like an adult. Thanks.

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Robinson: The Journey was the first game that let me put a hat and sunglasses on a baby T-Rex. When I first saw the hats, and a pair of sunglasses I thought “Will they let me put these on my pet T-Rex?” Turns out they did! That weird example explains what is best about this game.

Robinson The Journey is all about exploring and adventure. You are meant to look in every corner, interact with everything, the developers let you fully enjoy every nook and cranny of their world. From playing tic tac toe with your floating AI or shooting hoops back at basecamp.

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Set on a prehistoric world where you are surrounded by dinosaurs big and small it is actually a joy to just wander around and take in the sheer scale of some of the huge creatures. VR of course allowing you to get right in beside them. You are tasked with going to different locations, doing puzzles and small quests to try and find any other survivors when the massive space ship that you were on crash landed. So far, it’s just you and you’re making due with your HIGS unit AI and your pet T-Rex.

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Controls are always a big scary topic when it comes to VR games. It always comes down to personal preference and how VR affects your equilibrium. This time for me, I had zero sickness. The controls I had setup was free movement with the DS4 controller. I controlled my character just like I would in any other game. One of the rare PSVR games that actually lets me use regular controls and I LOVE IT!

Robinson The Journey blurs the lines of VR experience and VR game. You get freedom to go around and do what you want, but gameplay is restricted to puzzles, rock climbing, and making your own fun, yet you get these awesome vistas, wild environment, and standing next to massive dinos…..doesn’t get better than that. If you run through the game you’re looking at about 5 hours of play time. I however, spent 4 hours in basecamp alone.

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At $60, if you rush through this game you will be disappointed. Get your moneys worth by really diving in and exploring like the developers intended. They don’t confine you in a cockpit, or put you on rails. So treating this like a normal game is hard when your PSVR has programmed your brain to think “VR games are highly directed”. Robinson is more open than most PSVR games and that’s what makes it worth it.

Mark McMorris Infinite Air PS4 Review

Mark McMorris Infinite Air, finally a snowboard game that forgot what SSX was.

VIDEO REVIEW – https://youtu.be/5tRJAIQEL9Q

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Mark McMorris Infinite Air is a snowboard sim game. So you won’t be doing 10 backflips with fireworks going off at the same time, and that’s ok.

Throwing it back to the PlayStation 1 I was a Cool Boarder. That’s right, we would even have Cool Boarders parties to see who could get the highest scores on our favorite runs. From there I grabbed almost every console-based snowboard game from N64 all the way to the current-gen PlayStation 4. There’s something about extreme sports games that does it for me when team based sports games don’t. I think I’ve narrowed it down to the freedom they give me. In most cases it’s me alone that will determine if I beat my high score or not. I’m not relying on a computed roll of the dice to see if my wide receiver is going to catch the ball, or my curveball will get that strike, or I drain this 3 pointer. It all relies on me choosing the right tricks on the right obstacles and linking them correctly. The game doesn’t determine if I will land the trick or not. If I simply don’t rotate enough or hold my grab too long, that’s my fault. I dig that.

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The largest hurdle you will have to overcome when first playing the game is the absurd control scheme. I personally feel it’s dreadful. I have no control over what my guy is doing and it’s a shame. From there tho, we only skyrocket into the clouds of amazing.

Carving down the mountain feels awesome. It’s just you and the mountain. There were times where I would choose the perfect line through some back country powder and I just felt at peace. Like I was one with the snow. It was quite the feeling. (Then I would try and do a trick and fail horribly because I can’t remember how to do half the basic tricks)

The visuals are killer. You and other players lines in the snow will stay there and look as is someone actually carved their way down the slope. It’s coolio. Your jackets and pants will flap realistically and the sound of everything will further back up that realistic feel.

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Don’t expect a story mode. There’s very little structure in the game. You choose whether you want an event, free ride, or multiplayer. Then you just ride. There’s also a cool feature where at any time you can hop in a helicopter, fly anywhere on the mountain and have it drop you off there.

There’s only 25 events total….and they are lackluster. However, to move on to the other events, you have to complete the objectives that are within the events. These events not doing it for you? Create your own! You can almost literally craft your own mountain. Fill it with nature, ramps, and buildings. From there you can publish so others can download your work of art and you can download theirs.

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You can buy and unlock all sorts of cool looking gear to equip your personal character, or you can choose a real life professional, even Mark McMorris himself duh! There aren’t any stats here so anyone you chose it will be purely cosmetic.

In the end Mark McMorris Infinite Air is a perfect game for those of us who are in dire need of a snowboard game, but with “Snow” the free to play snowboard game with skiing and snow mobiles as well as Ubisoft releasing “Steep” that has freaking wing suites, it’s a quite the season for snowboard games. Mark McMorris isn’t a perfect game, (mostly because of its horrid controls) nor will it redefine the genera, but it adds to the extreme sports landscape well.

VIDEO REVIEW – https://youtu.be/5tRJAIQEL9Q

Ace Banana PSVR Review!

Ace Banana, Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Ace Banana gives us a fun twist on the “beach head” genera and even throws in a banana Tamagotchi side game. It’s that side game though that keeps me coming back.

VIDEO REVIEW – https://youtu.be/vfIRMfOxfy0

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You, a lone Rambo banana must protect your banana babies from all sorts of wild and crazy monkeys. There’s a catch, bananas don’t know how to use guns, so we must use a bow & arrow. Well, the arrow is a plunger, or frog, or any other number or weird things. Pummel these banana stealing monkeys away from your multiple baby patches and save the day.

Ace Banana was the first VR game I played that used a bow & arrow as a weapon and buddy was I impressed. You hold the bow in one hand with the Move controller, then use your other hand with the other Move controller and PULL BACK the string and lets your plunger fly. There’s oddly no disconnect. I thought it would be harder to visualize where the bow was and the right place to grab and pull back, but I surprisingly had no problem. By the end of Wave 2, I was a pro, pulling off trick shots in all sorts of ways. It was a blast.

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My first playthrough I made it to Wave 5. The onslaught on monkeys was too great for me. But alas what is this I was awarded? A baby banana?! Awesome. You take the baby banana back to your house and feed it, give it water, and a touch of sunshine and before your eyes the little botanical berry grows up into a full-fledged monkey sniping machine. You can then use that banana as your avatar and check yourself out in the cool mirror….yeaaa….

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Ace Banana suffers from tediousness. The gameplay, even though its a bow & arrow, is just not enough to keep me playing for long. Its fun sure, but even the plethora of different powerups you can get aren’t enough to vary the gameplay. However, getting these baby bananas and raising them, THATS WHERE THE FUN IS FOR ME. There are 3 resources you use to grow your baby banana. Each resource can and will run out. So you need to play the game to get more of these resources. The only thing keeping me playing was to acquire these resources and see what kind of banana I would grow. I love a good reveal.

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Ace Banana does a good job of setting itself apart from its competition, but the gameplay gets old quick. There is still fun to be had though, especially at this price point.

Ace Banana is out now on the PSN store for your PSVR. Now if you will excuse me, this is the last time I will ever say “Banana”.

VIDEO REVIEW – https://youtu.be/vfIRMfOxfy0

Ginger: Beyond the Crystal PS4 Review

Ginger: Beyond the Crystal, the potential is strong with this one…

VIDEO REVIEW – https://youtu.be/h3AWiXejm9k

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Ginger: Beyond the Crystal feels like it could be something great. Along the lines of Crash Bandicoot even. But there’re a few flaws helping it back from greatness and that’s a major bummer.

Ginger: Beyond the Crystal, it’s a simple and cute platformer that will remind you of the glory days of. Crash Bandicoot, Banjo and Kazooie, and Spyro the Dragon. You run through the levels with little Ginger rescuing villagers (and gaining outfits) double jumping and snagging all the crystals and collectibles on your way. There are minor puzzles to solve that mostly involve you wearing the right outfit in order to unlock things. There’s even a fun little Base building mechanic in here where you rebuild your village. Rescue survivors and do quests for them back in town and rebuilds the houses and shops. Seriously great fun.

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But the game is marred by such dumb flaws that ruin the whole joy of the game. You are first greeted with absurd load times, then when loaded in, the frame rate is way below 30fps to the point I got sick within a minute of playing. The cutscenes are especially low frame rate. The combat is simple, yes, but there’s no “oomph” when hitting an enemy. You can walk through them with no collision. Combat is terribly unsatisfying.

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Those negatives ruin what could be THE DEFINING PLATFORMER FOR THE NEW GENERATION. My daughter loves this game. It cute, it’s as hard as you want it to be and has easy cheese controls. The level design not only looks gorgeous, but each level is unique and fun. The enemy design is great too. They enemy AI all have patterns that are easy to identify and exploit. Everything about this game oozes nostalgia but technical errors hold it back from being great.

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For now, I’m saying wait to buy. Let the developers iron out these kinks. This game has huge potential to be the next Crash Bandicoot if they make the combat feel better and fix the frame rate and camera issues….it’s a masterpiece.

VIDEO REVIEW – https://youtu.be/h3AWiXejm9k

Tethered PSVR Review!

Tethered, as close as we’re gonna get to “Black & White” in VR!

VIDEO REVIEW AND GAMEPLAY HERE – https://youtu.be/d40wfwMmEOA

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Tethered might be the first true “game” I have played in VR. It wasn’t a showcase of the tech, or a demo of sorts. It’s a full-fledged god game you play only in VR.

The premise of the game is you’re a benevolent being that watches over these sky islands. Eggs start dropping out of the sky and hatch these little cute “bumbas” (that’s what I call them) you are then tasked to fulfill these bumbas life’s by making them do tasks. Tasks like mine rocks or minerals, chop wood, or farm. From there you can construct buildings like a tavern, a church, barracks and then on top of daily tasks you can assign them jobs like fighter, miner, farmer etc… that will make them more proficient in doing specific tasks.

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Oh no it looks like you’re chopping down all the trees. No problem. Snag a rain cloud and tether it to the trees and it will grow more. There is a weather cloud for each resource so you can keep growing more. There are also crystals which you can mine and these will add to your spirit energy. Once you reach the target spirit amount you have completed that island and can move onto the next.

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The twist though, is at night monsters come out. Send in your fighters and gang up on these beasts to take them down swiftly. Killing beasts as well as completing major tasks will also award spirit points.

You will be going on tether attaching tangents. There are a good amount of tasks that need to be highly regulated. You will be assigning and re assigning tasks constantly. Tethering constantly. As pretty as the visuals are you don’t get too much time to really look around these gorgeous landscapes. There work to be done people!

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The single issue I had though was a big one. The crosshair dot wasn’t centered correctly. I don’t know if this is design or if my head is just lopsided, but I would go to aim and tether and the dot would be slightly left of where my brain thought it should be. Weird.

Besides that Tethered is a wonderful game with lots to offer. It’s a game that doesn’t care how quick your reaction time is and it doesn’t care for complicated control schemes. It takes the VR platform, thrives off its unique ip, and makes an impression. Tethered is here to stay and I hope to see a Tethered 2 in a year or 2. Yes, it’s that fun.

If you have a PSVR this is THE GAME to buy. No gimmicks, no nostalgia, no AAA hype. Just fantastically fun gameplay.

VIDEO REVIEW AND GAMEPLAY HERE – https://youtu.be/d40wfwMmEOA